woensdag 31 december 2008

Hamas raketten bereiken Beersheba

De raketten van Hamas hebben nu de vierde stad van Israel bereikt. Als Israel niks onderneemt, is het een kwestie van tijd voordat ze Tel Aviv en de 'Israelische randstad' kunnen treffen. Volgens militaire bronnen heeft Israel circa eenderde van Hamas' raketten en lanceerinstallaties vernietigd, en hoewel de regering zegt dat de operatie nog maar in haar beginfase is, neemt de druk om een staakt-het-vuren te accepteren toe.
Rockets reach Beersheba, cause damage
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis join list of rocket-stricken communities as Grad missile explodes in empty kindergarten, causing damage; several people suffer shock. Man lightly injured by rocket in Ashkelon
Ilana Curiel - YNET
Beersheba joined the list of rocket-stricken communities Tuesday evening as an air raid siren sounded across the southern city, followed by several explosions. A Grad missile landed in an empty kindergarten in the city, causing damage. The Magen David Adom emergency services treated several people for shock.

Another rocket landed in an open area in the Merhavim Regional Council. Shortly afterwards, two Qassam rockets hit Ashkelon and two others were fired at the Sdot Negev Regional Council.

One man was lightly injured by shrapnel as a rocket landed in the center of Ashkelon. Vehicles and buildings in the area sustained heavy damage. Eight people were treated for shock at the Barzilai Medical Center in the city.

The residents of the neighborhood hit by the rocket said they had run to the bomb shelter only to find it locked. "Everything was closed there, what should we do? We live in a house with plaster walls," one of them said.

Beersheba resident Itama Abuhatzeira was at his friend's house when the siren sounded. "Luckily, the entire apartment is in a basement, so we didn't have to move anywhere else - simply because we didn't have enough time," he told Ynet.

"Explosions were heard along with the siren. We have been hearing about warning for the Beersheba area for days now, so I wasn't too surprised.

The southern town of Omer, near Beersheba, also joined the list of communities disrupted by air raid sirens.

Efrat, an Omer resident, was at home with her two small daughters and was terrified to hear the siren. "As a lecturer at the Sapir College (in Sderot), but with my children at home it was terrible," she told Ynet.

Efrat's husband ran outside and discovered that the bomb shelter was locked. The town's schools and kindergartens held a rocket alert drill on Tuesday morning, but not all residents received the leaflets with the Home Front Command's instructions.

Mayor warns residents

On Tuesday afternoon, Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich called on his city's residents not to be complacent and act in accordance with instructions issued by the Home Front Command.

Speaking during a briefing at his office, Danilovich said the city was more than 50% connected to the Home Front Command's alert system. The rest of the neighborhoods will be connected in the coming days.

Several rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip several hours earlier. One exploded in the parking lot of a big factory in the city of Ashdod and another landed in Ashkelon, without causing any damage. Several people suffered shock. Additional rockets landed within the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council in the Gaza vicinity.

Simultaneously, the Israel Defense Forces continued its airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, and for the second time since the start of Operation Cast Lead bombed tunnels in the Philadelphi Route, near Rafah. Dozens of tunnels were damaged.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Grad rocket fired from northern Gaza landed in the city of Kiryat Malachi. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The attack marked the first time that the city and its surrounding areas have been targeted.

Explosions were also heard in the city of Netivot. One rocket landed north of Beersheba near Rahat. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Yael Branovsky and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report

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